I hate the cold. Can’t stand it. I hate being cold, I hate driving in cold, I hate the temperature being lower then 20. So now I am sure you are wondering “Drew, whats the worst kind of cold?” Well loyal reader, I will tell you. The worst kind of cold is the kind that hits you in the face after leaving UD arena after a disappointing loss. Last night was the worst kind of cold. Dayton was back home where they had won their first two home A10 games, and had only one loss all season to an extremely stout Mississippi State squad who is currently ranked. The George Mason Patriots are not the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but they traveled north with togetherness just the same, and it showed on this night. This game felt weird from the opening tip off. Both teams got off to a hot start, then cooled off substantially for the remainder. Dayton under performed in the last four minutes (shocking I know) and Mason was able to steal one from the Flyers on the road. Let’s take a closer look.
The game started well, Mikesell was aggressive in the early going and scored a quick 7 points, Cunningham put in 9 and those two accounted for Dayton’s first 16 points of the ball game. Leading 16-10, Dayton had an opportunity to bury Mason early in the first half, but Instead of jumping at that chance, they gave up a 12-0 run and allowed Mason to regain the lead and gave them belief that they could steal this one, which of course, they eventually would. With the score 24-18, Obi had a baseline jam and Freshman Dwayne Cohill buried two threes to get the game back to even at 26 all. Both offenses struggled the rest of half which led to Dayton holding a halftime lead of 33-31.
The 2nd half was as back and forth as you can get in basketball. Neither team held a lead of more then 4 throughout and the teams traded the lead back and forth for the majority of it. Mason did exactly what a road team needs to do. They hung around, never let Dayton build a lead and they never allowed a chance for the crowd to get into the game. They did that all night. It wasn’t until about 6 minutes to go when the Arena finally came to life and it sprung Dayton to a lead of 63-60 with 2:58 remaining in the game on a prayer 3 point heave from Jordan Davis. You all know the rest. Dayton didn’t score the rest of the game and Mason closed with a 7-0 run to steal this game at the Arena and sent all of the Flyer Fans, into the cold, dark, rainy night. Time for takes.
Dayton got out hustled, and frankly, played soft.
I couldn’t bring myself to re-watch the game last night when I got home, just couldn’t do it. So I re-watched this morning and my general consensus was, Mason just wanted it more. Dayton out rebounded Mason but it didn’t feel that way. It just felt like Masons players were quicker, they went to the ball with more toughness, and just overall played harder then Dayton did. That is unsettling and isn’t something that should happen at home. Hustle plays get the crowd involved. When your opponent is the one winning the hustle plays you hear groans from the crowd instead of cheers. Dayton has some things to figure out in that aspect. If I was Anthony Grant today’s practice would be a lot of competition drills and drills that are going to make the guys play hard, but i’m not Anthony Grant.
Half of Dayton’s shots were from the 3 point line.
The book is out on the Dayton Flyers. We are deep enough into the season where teams have a good idea for how you are going to play and it was apparent what that was for Mason last night. Dare Dayton to shoot from deep. They did just that. Dayton finished 8-27 from the 3 point line. Jalen Crutcher and Jordan Davis were a combined 4-19 from deep. Cohill, Mikesell, and Josh were 4-7 from deep. Landers missed the only three he took bringing his season total to 6-36 on the season, yikes.
I understand that the game today is being tailored to three point shooting, but when you have players like Josh Cunningham and Obi Toppin, you need to get the ball down low some way. Some of that is on coaching yes, but sometimes, it’s on the player too. Cunningham needs to recognize that he is the senior on this team, he’s the guy. He needs to go up to the guards who can’t throw it in the ocean and say “give me the ball and let me work.” Demand that ball down low. I know he isn’t an aggressive guy by nature but sometimes I wish Josh would get pissed off. Don’t take that as me calling out or blaming Josh, it is just a small nitpick I have with his game. Dayton also only shot 9 free throws. Conversely, Mason shot 16, making 13 of them. It was clear which team was aggressive on offense and which team wasn’t.
Dayton disappeared in the last 4 minutes, again.
It is becoming a trend. Dayton is dreadful in the final four minutes of games. The list goes on. Oklahoma, Tulsa, Mississippi St, VCU, and now George Mason. I don’t know if it is fatigue, lack of execution, or lack of putting players in the right positions. A mix of all three seems to be correct. Look, it is easy to look at this game and criticize Anthony Grant, believe me, I get it. He wasn’t without error tonight either. The final 15 seconds have been a major talking point in Lowdville. with 16 seconds left, Anthony Grant called a timeout, with one remaining. Dayton missed but Mason knocked the ball out of bounds and drew a review. After the review Crutcher received the inbound pass and sprinted across the court and called the final remaining timeout. Grant drew up a play, but had the first three options of the play taken away. Dayton ended up with a Crutcher three that went begging and Mason iced the game from the line.
Anthony Grant just told @larryhansgen what he was looking for those last two cracks at it @WHIORadio:
1.) Obi at the rim. (Mason cut that off)
2.) Jalen at the top of the key. (Repeat)
3.) Mikesell running downhill at the rim.
4.) Mikesell kicking to Crutcher. (What they got).
— John Bedell (@JBedellWHIO) January 24, 2019
Let’s talk (some) positives.
I know, I know. “HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT POSITIVES AFTER A GAME LIKE THIS!?!?!” Because, I am an eternal optimist. Ryan Mikesell continued his consistent production with 10 points on 4-5 shooting and tacking on a 3. He also finished 5 rebounds, 4 assist, and 3 blocks. I wish we had gone to him more down the stretch, he looked comfortable last night. He was driving to the hoop, finishing, and playing the best overall game on the team. I understand he has missed some crunch time shots this year but with how well he started the game I wish they could have gotten him more involved. Dwayne Cohill continues to improve game by game. I talked on the podcast this week about how when Cohill can score in “pockets of minutes” how valuable it could be. It manifested tonight. He made back to back 3’s to get Dayton back in the ball game and man, this dude defends. He only finished with 16 minutes, which was a little disappointing. He made some freshman mistakes last night, but overall I thought he played well and will continue to improve. Cohill, is going to be very good.
Okay everyone, last night sucked I know. However, the sun came up today and it isn’t the end of the world. Dayton sits at 4-2 in the conference and will have to make up some ground. I’m not hitting the panic button yet, and I know it is tempting after last night. It was a difficult loss, no doubt. Dayton goes on the road to Fordham on Saturday and everyone knows, you CAN NOT lose to Fordham. Hopefully the Flyers come out with a little more energy and toughness then they did tonight. The sense of urgency needs to be high now. You get Fordham and St. Joes these next two then the brutal part of your schedule begins. We still aren’t halfway through the A10 season yet. Let’s see how the guys respond to a game like this and go from there.
Until then, Ware the Red, Be the Lowd.